“‘King, you are touched!’ ‘Fight on, Earl Lecherer!’
I cursed him to his face—the added spur
Sticks venom in my lunge—a sudden thrust!
No cry, no gasp; but he is in the dust,
Stark dead. The queen—I hate the name of her!
So grew the mustard-seed, one moment’s lust.” [via]
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- “‘You know I will not strike, Sir pure and brave! Fight me your best–or I shall find a whip!’ That stung me, even me. He wronged me, so: Therefore some shame and hate informed the blow; Some coward’s courage pointed me the steel; Some strength of Hell: we lunge, and leap, and wheel; Hard breath and laboured hands–the flashes grow Swifter and cruel–this court hath no appeal!”
- “Night came upon me thus–a wizard hand Grasping with silence the reluctant land. Through night I clomb–behind me grew the light Reflected in the portal of the night. I reached the crest at dawn–pallid I stand, Uncomprehending of the sudden sight. The river and the bridge! The river flows, Tears of young orphans for its limpid woes. The red bridge quivers–how my spirit starts, Its seeming glory built of widows’ hearts! And yet I could disdain it–heaven knows I had no dear ones for their counterparts.
- “Wealth brought to me a purse, whose glancing gold Mocked the sun’s rays, grown dull as iron rust, And pressed it in my hand, saying ‘Behold The corner-stone of fame, the means of lust’ And I ‘In thee I put but little trust Shameful, most vile, accursed of God’s ire, Dross of the dunghill’s most detested dust, Thou has a guerdon, is it not for hire?'”
- “The king did start, Gripped my strong hands, and held me to his heart, And could not speak a moment. Then he set A curb of sorrow and subdued its dart. ‘Go! and the blessing of high God attend Thy path, and lead thee to the doubtful end. No tongue that secret ever may reveal. Thy soul is god-like and thy frame is steel; Thou mayst win the quest–the king, thy friend, Gives thee his sword to keep thee–Gereth, kneel! ‘I dub thee Earl; arise!’ And then there rings The queen’s voice: ‘Shall my love not match the king’s? Here, from my finger drawn, this gem of power Shall guard thee in some unimagined hour. It hath strange virtue over mortal things. I freely give it for thy stirrup’s dower.’ I left the presence. Now the buffeting wind Gladdens my face–I leave the court behind. Am I Stark mad? My face grows grim and grave; I see–O Mary Mother, speak and save! I stare and stare until mine eyes are blind– There was no jewel in the ring she gave!”
- “Then, one immaculate divinest whole, Plunge, fire, within all fire, dive far to death; Till, like king Satan’s sympathetic breath, Burn on us as a voice from far above Strange nameless elements of fire and love; And we, one mouth to kiss, one soul to lure, For ever, wedded, one, divine, endure Far from sun, sea, and spring from love or light, Imbedded in impenetrable night; Deeper than ocean, higher than the sky, Vaster than petty loves that dream and die, Insatiate, angry, terrible for lust, Who shrivel God to adamantine dust By our fierce gaze upon him, who would strive Under our wrath, to flee away, to dive Into the deep recesses of his heaven.”